dis·in·gen·u·ous | \ ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs , -yü-əs \

Definition of disingenuous 

: lacking in candor also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating

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Other words from disingenuous

disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

disingenuous Has a Roman History

Ingenous has its roots in the slave-holding society of ancient Rome. Its ancestor ingenuus is a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn" (itself from gignere, meaning "to beget"). Ingenuus begot the English adjective ingenuous. That adjective originally meant "freeborn" (as in "ingenuous Roman subjects") or "noble and honorable," but it eventually came to mean "showing childlike innocence" or "lacking guile." In the mid-17th century, English speakers combined the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous, meaning "guileful" or "deceitful."

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. —Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999 … and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. —T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993 … he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. —Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993 Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. —Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990 Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could have resigned rather than put his name on a transparently disingenuous letter justifying Comey’s firing. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "President Trump Is Taking Control of the Mueller Probe in Slices," 29 May 2018 James Comey, who vacillates between disingenuous Boy Scout and Deep State provocateur, pointed out during his book tour that at this point, there are so many investigations into Trump that firing Mueller won’t stop the investigation. Jason Johnson, The Root, "It’s Been a Year Already: So What Actually Happens if Trump Fires Mueller?," 17 May 2018 On the other hand, either leader might conclude the other is disingenuous and scuttle any future negotiations. Alex Ward, Vox, "The Trump-Kim summit is the most dramatic — and dangerous — moment of Trump’s presidency so far," 11 June 2018 Now There's a disingenuous both-sides-ism to just about every idea the game puts forth. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "Far Cry 5 Review: Finally, a Video Game for Cowards," 2 Apr. 2018 While price and results are part of the equation, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous, value always rules the day. Jim Troha, Washington Post, "Value matters in choosing a college. But not just the price kind.," 13 July 2018 In general, the Trump administration’s, or Trump’s, efforts are very disingenuous, because European countries already agreed in 2014 to start increasing their military spending. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Is It Fair for Trump to Bash NATO Over Military Spending?," 12 July 2018 This entire op-ed was disingenuous, the ultimate subtweet and a way of throwing a rock while hiding your hand. Monique Judge, The Root, "Rich White People Shunning Other Rich White People For Supporting Donald Trump Is Hilarious," 2 July 2018 And yes, there are certainly cynics who may feel that Apple and Google’s efforts are disingenuous — after all, these companies have always wanted to ensure that users, hardware sales, and, most importantly, profits go up ahead of anything else. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "How do Apple’s Screen Time and Google Digital Wellbeing stack up?," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disingenuous

1655, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

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The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655

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English Language Learners Definition of disingenuous

: not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere

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